What is Spousal Support?

Don’t Make a Move Without Knowing Your Options

Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is money paid by one spouse to another qualifying spouse during or after a divorce or separation. Alimony is often a source of conflict as the higher-earning spouse may not be willing to pay or the receiving spouse may be asking for too much. If you and your spouse cannot agree on spousal support, our experienced attorneys in Miami-Dade County, Florida can help you reach an out-of-court agreement or represent you in court and help you get a fair ruling whichever side of the alimony determination you’re on.

Who is Entitled to Alimony?

According to the law, divorced or separated spouses should continue to enjoy the same standards of living they had during the marriage. The better-off spouse should provide supplemental income to the one who can not afford to maintain the established standard of living.

Once your spousal support case is in court, you need to provide evidence to support your position. Ultimately, the court must decide:

  • If alimony should be awarded
  • Which types of alimony to award
  • The amount of alimony
  • Alimony duration, and 
  • Whether the supporting spouse can afford to pay the awarded alimony

You need a qualified attorney to help you gather all the information you need to defend your course and present a solid case in court. Some of the factors that the court will investigate to award alimony are:

  • Your standard of living during the marriage
  • The marriage duration – The court awards permanent alimony for long- or moderate-term marriages (those lasting at least 7 years) and short-term alimony for marriages that last less than 7 years
  • Your age and physical and emotional health
  • Your financial resources — non-marital and marital assets such as inheritance and investments and liabilities 
  • Your earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, employability and how long it will take to obtain sufficient employment
  • Your contribution to the marriage in terms of homemaking, education, child care, and building the other person’s career
  • Your individual responsibilities to minor children after the marriage 
  • The tax consequences of an alimony award

Different Types of Spousal Support

There are different types of alimony that the court can award depending on the circumstances of your spousal support case. These are:

  • Permanent alimony – This includes spousal support until the remarriage of the payee spouse or the death of either party. The court can modify permanent alimony if the circumstance of the receiving spouse changes substantially. A court may award permanent alimony if the payee spouse is in a supportive relationship, which is generally a marriage or a relationship based on financial support. Alimony obligations may be secured by the payment of a life insurance policy as per a court order
  • Rehabilitative alimony – This is alimony to support a spouse that is under rehabilitation until he or she can support themselves. The burden of proof lies with you if you are seeking rehabilitative alimony. You should have evidence of your retraining plan,  reasons for rehab, costs, estimated period, and how the plan will make you self-support
  • Bridge-the-Gap alimony – This alimony is awarded for a specific short duration not more than 2 years to assist you in transitioning from married life to single life and meet legitimate identifiable short-term needs. Bridge-the-gap alimony is non-modifiable
  • Lump-Sum alimony – Lump-Sum alimony goes hand in hand with permanent alimony and is paid as a lump sum or in installments when there are special circumstances like when the paying spouse is in poor health
  • Durational alimony – Durational alimony provides a payee spouse with economic assistance for a specific duration after a marriage of short or moderate duration marriage. The alimony ends if one spouse dies or if the payee spouse remarries, and is modifiable when there is proof of substantial circumstance changes. The length durational alimony award is mostly unmodifiable but cannot exceed the marriage duration
  • Nominal alimony – When a court finds that the payee spouse is entitled to alimony, but there are insufficient resources available at trial to award sufficient alimony to meet their needs, nominal alimony may be awarded. The nominal alimony award is modifiable at the court’s discretion
  • Prospective vs retroactive alimony – Prospective spousal support addresses future alimony obligations, for example, alimony to be paid after a court order is made or after a separation agreement. Retroactive spousal support addresses past obligations that should have been paid while you were awaiting a court order or separation agreement. The award of retroactive alimony can be made back to the date the divorce petition was filed

How Much is Alimony and Is it Taxable?

Alimony is calculated based on the need of the payee and the ability of the paying spouse. The final alimony amount is at the court’s discretion. However, according to guidelines given by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, the alimony amount equals 30% of the paying spouse’s gross annual income less 20% of the payee’s gross annual income.

If you’re paying child support, alimony is considered part of your income. In Florida, if your alimony obligations are not tax-deductible and alimony received is not taxable if your divorce was finalized from 1st January 2019.

How to Avoid Alimony 

The best way to avoid an alimony obligation is to reach an agreement with your spouse through a prenuptial agreement if you aren’t already married or a postnuptial agreement if you’re already married. You can also avoid alimony by eliminating need from your spouse. Ask yourself how much your spouse would potentially need in alimony and how you can assist them by contributing to their own needs.

Contact our Attorneys To Discuss Your Case Today

Our family law advocates at Miami-Dade County Florida know that spousal support is often a contentious issue during divorce or separation. Our family lawyers in Miami, FL can help you reach out-of-court agreements when possible and, if not, defend you in court. If you have questions about alimony in Florida, our attorneys are ready to help. Contact us online at miamidadefamilylaw.com to set up a consultation today.